Restorative Justice Taught to 7th Graders at Kellogg Elementary School 

Attorney Tom Hogan says peace circle approach can “solve a lot of problems” before they head to the courthouse.  

By Tim Moran  

The exact same physical incident can result in very different outcomes when looked at in the form of the traditional American justice system and that of a peace circle. That’s what Tom Hogan, a Beverly/Morgan Park attorney and BAPA community support donor, has found over the past five years when presenting a mock incident as part of a restorative justice program to the seventh graders at Kellogg Elementary School.   

“Restorative justice is a better way to handle many criminal disputes because the approach centers on the community and the people who were harmed,” Hogan said.  

Kellogg students go through seven weeks of education on restorative justice before a demonstration involves a physical altercation in the lunchroom in which a seventh grader gets knocked to the floor and gets brain damage. Half the class takes the approach of the traditional justice system, while the other half engages in a peace circle focusing on the feelings of the victim, how the harm impacts others who were not directly victimized, how it can be addressed and remediated to the best extent possible.  

Hogan has presented the restorative justice program at schools throughout Chicagoland over the last dozen or so years, with full support for a few years by the Chicago Bar Association but for longer funded on his own. He said a few Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood schools have tried it over the years, but Kellogg has become consistent with including it in their programming.  

Dr. Crystal Brown-Lewis, another BAPA community support donor, and Pastor Jenny English have been among a group of consistent peace circle keepers at Kellogg, but Hogan is looking for others involved in law to become involved in expanding the restorative justice program even further.  

“We need restorative justice to be used over and over again for people to get comfortable with this approach, and how to understand that this can solve a lot of problems we send to the courthouse,” Hogan said.  

“I think it’s valuable and I think it works.” 

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